By Marita Noon
“Ocean acidification” (OA) is receiving growing attention. While someone who doesn’t follow climate change science might think OA is a stomach condition resulting from eating bad seafood, OA is claimed to be a phenomenon that will destroy ocean life—all due to mankind’s use of fossil fuels. It is a foundational theory upon which the global warming/climate change narrative is built.
The science and engineering website Quest, recently posted: “Since the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, we have been mining and burning coal, oil and natural gas for energy and transportation. These processes release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. It is well established that the rising level of CO2 in our atmosphere is a major cause of global warming. However, the increase in CO2 is also causing changes to the chemistry of the ocean. The ocean absorbs some of the excess atmospheric CO2, which causes what scientists call ocean acidification. And ocean acidification could have major impacts on marine life.”
Within the Quest text is a link to a chart by Dr. Richard A. Feely, who is a senior scientist with the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL)—which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Feely’s climate-crisis views are widely used to support the narrative.
Feely’s four-page report: Carbon Dioxide and Our Ocean Legacy, offered on the NOAA website, contains a similar chart. This chart, titled “Historical & Projected pH & Dissolved Co2,” begins at 1850. Feely testified before Congress in 2010—using the same data that shows a decline in seawater pH (making it more acidic) that appears to coincide with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
In 2010, Feely received the $100,000 cash prize from the Heinz Family Foundation awards (established by Teresa Heinz, wife of Secretary of State John Kerry). The Heinz award site touts Feely’s work: “Ocean acidity is now considered global warming’s ‘evil twin,’ thanks in large measure to Dr. Feely’s seminal research on the changing ocean chemistry and its impact on marine ecosystems.”
The December edition of the scientific journal Nature Climate Change features commentary titled: “Lessons learned from ocean acidification research.”
However, an inquisitive graduate student presented me with a very different “lesson” on OA research.
Mike Wallace is a hydrologist with nearly 30 years’ experience, who is now working on his Ph.D. in nanogeosciences at the University of New Mexico. In the course of his studies, he uncovered a startling data omission that he told me: “eclipses even the so-called climategate event.” Feely’s work is based on computer models that don’t line up with real-world data—which Feely acknowledged in email communications with Wallace (which I have read). And, as Wallace determined, there is real world data. Feely, and his coauthor Dr. Christopher L. Sabine, PMEL Director, omitted 80 years of data, which incorporate more than 2 million records of ocean pH levels.
Feely’s chart, first mentioned, begins in 1988—which is surprising as instrumental ocean pH data has been measured for more than 100 years since the invention of the glass electrode pH (GEPH) meter. As a hydrologist, Wallace was aware of GEPH’s history and found it odd that the Feely/Sabine work omitted it. He went to the source. The NOAA paper with the chart beginning in 1850 lists Dave Bard, with Pew Charitable Trust, as the contact.
Wallace sent Bard an email: “I’m looking in fact for the source references for the red curve in their plot which was labeled ‘Historical & Projected pH & Dissolved Co2.’ This plot is at the top of the second page. It covers the period of my interest.” Bard responded and suggested that Wallace communicate with Feely and Sabine—which he did over a period of several months. Wallace asked again for the “time series data (NOT MODELING) of ocean pH for 20th century.” Sabine responded by saying that it was inappropriate for Wallace to question their “motives or quality of our science,” adding that if he continued in this manner, “you will not last long in your career.” He then included a few links to websites that Wallace, after spending hours reviewing them, called “blind alleys.” Sabine concludes the email with: “I hope you will refrain from contacting me again.” But communications did continue for several more exchanges.
In an effort to obtain access to the records Feely/Sabine didn’t want to provide, Wallace filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
In a May 25, 2013 email, Wallace offers some statements, which he asks Feely/Sabine to confirm:
“…it is possible that Dr. Sabine WAS partially responsive to my request. That could only be possible however, if only data from 1989 and later was used to develop the 20th century portion of the subject curve.”
“…it’s possible that Dr. Feely also WAS partially responsive to my request. Yet again, this could not be possible unless the measurement data used to define 20th century ocean pH for their curve, came exclusively from 1989 and later (thereby omitting 80 previous years of ocean pH 20th century measurement data, which is the very data I’m hoping to find).”
Sabine writes: “Your statements in italics are essentially correct.” He adds: “The rest of the curve you are trying to reproduce is from a modeling study that Dr. Feely has already provided and referenced in the publication.”
In his last email exchange, Wallace offers to close out the FOIA because the email string “clarified that your subject paper (and especially the ‘History’ segment of the associated time series pH curve) did not rely upon either data or other contemporary representations for global ocean pH over the period of time between the first decade of 1900 (when the pH metric was first devised, and ocean pH values likely were first instrumentally measured and recorded) through and up to just before 1988.” Wallace received no reply, but the FOIA was closed in July 2013 with a “no document found” response.
Interestingly, in this same general timeframe, NOAA reissued its World Ocean Database. Wallace was then able to extract the instrumental records he sought and turned the GEPH data into a meaningful time series chart, which reveals that the oceans are not acidifying. (For another day, Wallace found that the levels coincide with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.) As Wallace emphasized: “there is no global acidification trend.”
Regarding the chart in question, Wallace concludes: “Ocean acidification may seem like a minor issue to some, but besides being wrong, it is a crucial leg to the entire narrative of ‘human-influenced climate change.’ By urging our leaders in science and policy to finally disclose and correct these omissions, you will be helping to bring honesty, transparency, and accountability back where it is most sorely needed.”
“In whose professional world,” Wallace asks, “is it acceptable to omit the majority of the data and also to not disclose the omission to any other soul or Congressional body?”
Wallace met with staffers for both of his Senators, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall (both NM-D), and shared his findings with them to no response. Heinrich and Udall both claim adherence to the climate crisis narrative.
These taxpayer-funded scientists are leaders of the OA narrative. They participate in well-funded OA research programs and sit on advisory councils, such as the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize that offers a $2 million prize related to ocean pH measurements. “It all seems authentic and quite legitimate.” Yet their work is based on, as Wallace calls it, “a new history of ocean pH.” One that “is significantly different from the history suggested by actual measurements and other sources of peer review literature.”
Wallace came to me, because I’ve addressed similar cases of data omissions or use of bad science in relation to climate change issues, and he hoped I’d see the importance of his discovery—where his Senators did not. I am not a scientist, but I understand the broader issues. I’ve read through the emails, the FOIA, and Wallace’s recounting of the details. I’ve had several scientists review this accounting. It holds water (no pun intended).
As he initially did with Wallace, Sabine (should he see this) will likely dismiss me as some two-bit blogger who “will not last long” in my career. I invite him to prove me wrong—as Dr. Tim Ball has done with Michael Mann of the “hockey stick” fame.
In addition to my efforts to raise awareness of this issue, Wallace authored a petition that he urges my readers to sign. We also strongly encourage you to ask your representatives in Washington questions on this issue. Wallace concludes: “Ocean acidification may seem like a minor issue to some, but besides being wrong, it is a crucial leg to the entire narrative of ‘human-influenced climate change.’ By urging our leaders in science and policy to finally disclose and correct these omissions, you will be helping to bring honesty, transparency, and accountability back where it is most sorely needed.”
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.